For+SBCC+to+maintain+its+storied+reputation%2C+equity%2C+diversity%2C+inclusion+must+be+college%27s+No.+1+priority

For SBCC to maintain its storied reputation, equity, diversity, inclusion must be college’s No. 1 priority

The Channels Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

March 12, 2021

Time is of the essence. 

It’s been two years since a survey revealed that City College staff, faculty and students felt that the college was lacking in terms of providing an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment for everybody on campus.

The survey prompted much discussion at shared governance meetings like Associated Student Government, Academic Senate, the College Planning Council and Board of Trustees sessions— but these discussions have not led to the type of visible changes that the campus community deserves.

Now is the time for leadership to have a clear message to the campus community that these issues are not being swept under the rug, and the talk about fixing inequities at City College will not die on the table.

The administration’s response to the campus climate survey has been slow, with much discussion about the issues and the creation of an institutional framework and suggested actions for shared governance, but too much of this work has been done behind the scenes and can be lost on the average student’s day-to-day experience.

City College passed Board Resolution 18 over the summer, after protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd erupted across the country and in Santa Barbara. The resolution was drafted to “condemn police brutality, affirm Black Lives Matter, and further promote campus diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The college created a Board Policy Review Task Force committed to “reevaluating Board Policies and Administrative Procedures with an anti-racist and equity lens” and a Campus Climate Advisory Committee town hall to provide a space for people to speak out about equity, diversity and inclusion.

Resolution 18 and other initiatives like the Board Policy Review Task Force and the Campus Climate Advisory Committee town hall are necessary steps to address these inequalities head on, but the college must continue this work to make sure students aren’t marginalized and all voices are heard on campus.

The monthly campus climate town halls started in January, and each meeting has been an illuminating glimpse into the issues that students, staff and faculty are facing both on a larger level and on a daily basis, and from these conversations it’s evident that there is still a lot of work to be done in governance meetings and by administration.

It’s a crucial time for the leadership at City College, and that means that it’s time to start listening to the voices of those who ultimately want the school to live up to its stated mission of providing a path to academic success for all students.

The town halls must not become only a place where people air their grievances. The issues raised in these meetings should be carefully considered and used as a compass to direct the campus towards equity.

There are clearly outlined concerns from the community, and the college needs to pay special attention to the voices of people on the ground who are facing these challenges each semester. Too much time is spent in discussion and not enough in addressing the issues.

Some of this delay can be attributed to red tape and bureaucracy—even simple actions like Resolution 18 or creating a requirement for employees to take an anti-racism training course are met with criticism by some members of the Board of Trustees.

Trustee Veronica Gallardo has repeatedly voted against anti-racist resolutions and measures, and though diversity of viewpoint is important in every area of leadership, this pushback against progress can be harmful when so many community members are speaking up about the same problems.

Wanting an environment where all students, staff and faculty feel welcome, represented and heard is not a political or social stance. In fact, it’s in the college’s mission statement, and it should be threaded throughout the school’s policies and procedures.

The board’s newest member Anna Everett is a welcome voice to help guide the school towards racial and sexual equity; Everett previously served as UCSB’s Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Academic Policy, and her work in highlighting marginalized voices and advocating for women is invaluable experience for the board.

It’s a crucial time for the leadership at City College, and that means that it’s time to start listening to the voices of those who ultimately want the school to live up to its stated mission of providing a path to academic success for all students.

The sooner we can put concrete systems in place that consistently support and promote equity and inclusion, the more time we can spend on the college’s core mission: Educating all students, and preparing them for success in the real world.

 

Santa Barbara City College welcomes all students. The College provides a diverse learning environment and opportunities for students to enrich their lives, advance their careers, complete certificates, earn associate degrees, and transfer to four-year institutions. 

The College is committed to fostering an equitable, inclusive, respectful, participatory, and supportive community dedicated to the success of every student.” – City College’s mission statement.

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For SBCC to maintain its storied reputation, equity, diversity, inclusion must be college’s No. 1 priority